A Passion for Chocolate

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Birthday Ice Cream Cake

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by Heather Harris-Brady

My wonderful son asked for an ice cream cake for his birthday, chocolate chip cookie dough, to be exact. Because every year I’m thankful that I can celebrate his birthday without the three days of labor it required the first time, I am happy to go the extra mile for the dessert.

I am not a big fan of ice cream cakes myself, so I had to find a way to get past the things about them that bug me and come up with a tribute to teenage dessert excess. Behold.

Ice Cream Cake, Serves 8

One 8″ square chocolate cake layer

One recipe hot fudge sauce

One half-gallon ice cream

Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with aluminum foil, leaving some long tails down along the sides. Take the ice cream out to soften. Cut the cake layer into strips about 1/2″ wide. Completely line the mold with them. You should have about 1/4 of the cake left when you’re finished. If you’re making this for an over-21 crowd it would be nice to spike things up here and sprinkle the cake mold with kahlua or some such jazz.

When the ice cream has softened, scoop it into the cake-lined mold. Smooth it down as you go and push it into all the corners so your cake will be nice and solid.

Cover the top with the remaining cake strips. Press the top down lightly with your palms and then put it in a deep freeze for a few hours to set firm.

Grasp the foil hanging down on either side of the pan and lift out the cake. I like to turn it upside down on the platter but if that scares you just peel the foil off and set it on the serving dish.

With the hot fudge sauce at room temperature put a thin crumb coat all over the cake.

Put it back in the fridge to firm up and then do a second coat, adding any sprinkles or other tricks at this point. Stick it back in the fridge until serving time. The hot fudge will set up nicely, but will stay easy to slice through.

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The cake all around the outside gives you an equal bite of cake, ice cream and fudge in each forkful. It also neatly contains the ice cream so it’s easier to slice and serve like a regular cake. It’s also a nice little cost-saver. An 8″ cookie dough cake at our local shop is $19.99, this one tallies up at around $6.50.

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Heart’s Desire Cake

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by Heather Harris-Brady

Once upon a time I read a short story about a young career woman who received a package in the mail from her grandmother. It had a cake recipe, a heart-shaped cake pan and a note that she was to bake the cake on Valentine’s Day because it would bring her true love. With reservations she made the cake as instructed. It was raining really hard and since she was convinced no one would show up she cut a piece of cake. You can guess what happens here – there’s a knock at the door, a handsome stranger who needs to use her phone and he just happens to end up her true love.

Now I can’t guarantee that if you are looking for true love this cake will call them to your door. But even if it doesn’t you’re home with a chocolate cake, so either way – win, win!

Heart’s Desire Cake Recipe, Makes one 9″ cake (about 12 servings)

Mix in a bowl:

1-3/4 c. flour

3/4 c. dark cocoa (It’s a lot, I know)

1 c. sugar

1 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

Optional:

1 T. instant coffee

1/3 c. ground almonds

1/3 c. ground hazelnuts

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Add 1 c. buttermilk, 1/2 c. olive oil and 2 t. vanilla.

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Pour into a greased 9″ pan and bake – 20-25 minutes if you want a soft center, 30 minutes if you want a cakey center.

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You can serve it as is, with raspberries and whipped cream or drizzle it with kahlua. But, because every now and then one should pull out all the stops – I covered it in chocolate ganache.

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Cake Truffles

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Today’s cake pop trend really has its roots on the rum ball family tree – for many, many years bakers have been using up their extra frostings and cake on these little dainties. When I used to do a lot of wedding cakes I did the same thing. I kept the extra ganache and buttercream, mixed it with cake trimmings, added some brandy and then gifted them to the serving staff when I delivered cakes. Call me a stick in the mud but I have a few beefs with the whole cake pop concept – one, things on a stick are cute but hard to eat gracefully and two, most of the recipes call for canned frosting. If you’re going to the trouble of turning a cake pop into a miniature frog or some-such, you might as well take an extra five minutes and make it taste way better.

I wanted to share a primer on these little treats, because they make very easy and chic mini-desserts or holiday gifts. Since these were for a group of ravenous teens, I’ve just covered them in ganache. But you can dip them in chocolate or roll them in nuts, cocoa, more crumbs, etc. They would be terrific as part of a holiday champagne bar.

Cake Truffle Recipe, Makes about 36

1 recipe Guinness cake, baked and crumbled (or just bake two 8″ layers of your choice)

1 recipe basic ganache

2 T. liqueur, rum or brandy if  desired

Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Pour the liquid ganache over the crumbs and mix until well-combined.

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Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture starts to firm up. Form into balls (I just use my hands but a melon baller would work) and drop onto cookie sheets.

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Coat them as desired (see notes above). I’ll be doing a related post soon on chocolate dipping.

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